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Celebrations

Fathers and children and reading together

I was reminded that Father's Day is this weekend by an advertisement suggesting baseball tickets instead of a tie or socks for old dad. A very good idea, I thought.

It's all about spending time together, isn't it? And there's nothing quite like spending time with children over a book. Here are a few that I like.

Children's Book Week: a real celebration

Children's Book Week (CBW) 2012 ended on May 13 but the work of celebrated children's authors and illustrators is sure to continue throughout the year.

I have this year's CBW poster hanging in my office. Created by three-time Caldecott Medalist Davis Wiesner, the poster has recognizable characters from renowned children's book creators coming together on a busy street.

Beyond Earth Day

A friend of my son and I were talking about a high school course he's taking on environmental science. He said that it wasn't as much about saving the planet as it was saving people.

I thought about what he'd said and I agree — at least in general.

Where does respect for the environment and people begin? When children are very young. My son's interest in observing backyard birds started when he built a small birdhouse as a 6-year old Cub Scout and continues to this day.

April celebrations

April is a month full of promise. The sun feels warmer, the days are longer, and there are celebrations galore.

100 years ago, the people of Japan gave cherry trees to the people of the United States. The centennial year of this gift is celebrated with events in Washington, DC all month long during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

April is National Poetry Month and Keep America Beautiful Month.

Beyond cookies

I was one. So was my sister. We did lots of things in Girl Scouts, but what I remember most is summer day camp and selling cookies — door to door — and having a good time with other kids. I don't remember being taught anything specifically, though I learned a lot. We were part of a Girl Scout troop where learning was engaging and part of all activities.

Reading across America

Today is Read Across America Day! It celebrates the Doctor's birthday (Dr. Seuss, that is) and the joy he created with his wonderful imagination.

Because of Theodor Geisel, we have unforgettable characters like the mischief-making Cat in the Hat, an environmentally concerned guy named the Lorax, the 20th century Scrooge named the Grinch, and an exceedingly kind elephant named Horton who saved the Whos from utter obliteration. (These and other Seuss creations as well as the doctor himself can be explored on a highly interactive website.)

Libraries and the achievement gap

Is the growing gap in children's achievement primarily fueled by economics? What other factors may have a role in it — and how can the apparent trend be reversed?

A recent piece in The New York Times reports studies that indicate a widening fissure in educational achievement between rich and poor. But it also suggests other factors may be at play.

We're all hyphenated Americans

We're all hyphenated Americans really. It's the way we identify our backgrounds and that's fine. If, however, identification by self or others becomes a way to maintain separation, well, that's not fine.

I was reminded recently that books are important as both "mirrors" and "windows" as I introduced books to a group of teenaged parents. They were learning about their children's development and the role of literature and language in it.

And the winner is ... children!

It's always heartening to be with other booklovers — especially those who recognize that the younger we start sharing the power and pleasure of language and story with children the more likely they'll grow into lifelong learners.

It was exciting to attend what has become known as the Youth Media Awards announcements at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.

Teacher appreciation a few months early

Teacher Appreciation Week is typically the first week of May. But January can be long, cold, and drab with mid-year assessments and paperwork taking up too much time. This seems like a good opportunity to remind all teachers just how important and wonderful you are! Every day you stand before very special people, and every day you have the power to ignite a spark that will last a lifetime.

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb